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Emotional Abuse: It is a bigger problem than you think

When people think of domestic abuse, they often picture battered women who have been physically assaulted. But not all abusive relationships involve violence. Just because you’re not battered and bruised doesn’t mean you’re not being abused. Many men and women suffer from emotional abuse, which is also very destructive. The aim of emotional abuse is to chip away at your feelings of self-worth and independence.

Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse such as yelling, name-calling, blaming, and shaming, isolation, intimidation, and controlling behaviour. If you are the victim of emotional abuse, you may feel that there is no way out of the relationship or that without your abusive partner you have nothing. Abusers who use emotional or psychological abuse often throw in threats of physical violence or other repercussions if you don’t do what they want.

You may think that physical abuse is far worse than emotional abuse, since physical violence can send you to the hospital and leave you with scars. But, the scars of emotional abuse are very real, and they run deep and can be just as damaging as physical abuse.

Emotional and verbal abuse may begin suddenly. Some abusers may start out behaving normally and then begin abuse after a relationship is established. Over time, abusers begin to insult or threaten their victims and begin controlling different parts of their lives. When this change in behaviour happens, it can leave victims feeling shocked and confused. You may feel embarrassed or foolish for getting into the relationship. If someone else abuses you, it’s never your fault.

Staying in an emotionally or verbally abusive relationship can have long-lasting effects on your physical and mental health, including leading to chronic pain, depression or anxiety. You may also change your behaviour for fear of upsetting your partner or feel powerless and hopeless, manipulated used, and unwanted. Your partner’s behaviour may leave you feeling as though you need to do anything possible to restore peace and end the abuse. This can feel stressful and overwhelming.

Seeking help may be overwhelming and at times it will discourage you from searching or accessing the important information you need. There are many resources available to you to give you the information you may need while going through the transition of being abused to starting over, in a happy and safe environment for yourself and your children.

Free State Care in Action will assist you through the process of taking charge of your life.  Social workers will support you during the process of obtaining legal assistance and provide therapy to you and your family members.  Life skills programmes and support groups can assist you in rebuilding your self-esteem and independence.  Contact Free State Care in Action at 051-4446143 for further assistance.